While I practice primarily in Louisiana, I have found myself occasionally pulled into cases in Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. I like exploring different state law and working to ensure that children are protected regardless of their address.  Many of these children have been floating through the Southeast region of the United States since their birth, staying with family members and neighbors for years long before the state stepped in. I don’t want these kids to be disadvantaged based solely on where they landed.

I have my licensure in Louisiana, so I don’t directly represent the kids in these other states (yet) but I work with legal practices in these states as a “child advocate” rather than attorney. Sometimes these kids just need a familiar face throughout the proceedings, so I try to provide that.

I also work with my organization to find adequate state-based legal representation for these children so that they’re not (always) appointed an unworthy state attorney to barely represent them to the best of their limited ability. No offense to these hard-working individuals, but children need extra care and attention that is no always allowable within their schedules.

My organization also works to ensure funding for these children.

I usually look for firms run by family members, first and foremost, simply because my belief is that if a law firm is marketing itself on being a family business, they may have more patience and attention to pay to children.  This is why I work very closely with who I believe are Mississippi’s best personal injury lawyers.

Law as Advocacy

When I tell people I work in personal injury law, I sometimes get a side-eye as though I’m some opportunistic leech tracking down injured people and billing people for their injury. This is certainly how my career started out, but as time went on and I felt less and less contributive to society, I pivoted. It turns out that children – including those being represented by the state – can sustain injuries at the fault of others and they deserve representation and advocacy as much as anyone else.

Some interesting information to consider:

  • In many states, children cannot file their own personal injury lawsuits meaning it usually becomes the responsibility of the parent. If the child, however, is parentless or in the custody of a non-parent legal guardian, it becomes a little more challenging. This is not to say that there aren’t great legal guardians out there protecting the interest of the children in their care. But for every one of these lucky kids, there are many who have a legal guardian who is trying as hard as they can but cannot possibly take on a legal case.
  • The laws regarding trespassing and property responsibility is different with children – and differs by state – insomuch that if a child is injured on property that they did not have permission to be on, they are probably considered trespassing. This means the owner of that property is likely not considered responsible for the injury.
  • However, child negligence (including those negligent to the notion of trespassing) is determined by the age of the child and how this represents their ability to reasonably behave. This is a state-by-state designation.
  • Because children are still being molded and influenced, there many factors to consider in a child’s injury case including disfigurement, pain/suffering and mental stress/trauma. These are all important considerations when requesting injury compensation.
  • In most states, the court will appoint a guardian to represent the child’s best interest depending on the amount of compensation. This is where I come in. While children’s have the same rights as adults to receive injury compensation when the injury is caused by the action/lack of action of others, the age of the child, circumstances of the injury, and legal standing of the child may complicate things.  I have experience with children’s cases and injury law to fight for each child “in the system” to get full compensation owed to him.

Children are People

It is oft forgotten that children matter and deserve advocacy, that this blows my mind is understating my disgust with some sections of humanity.  Children need and deserve more than to simply survive, they need opportunities to thrive and love and learn and grow. They deserve dignity, respect, and opportunities. Regardless of the circumstances of their lifestyles, families and socio-economic advantage or disadvantage. The 100 children in the ‘system’ at any time in this county deserve advocacy.

To take children out of family situations denying these rights only to put them into a system that continues to deny them is nonsense, pointless and a misuse of governmental funds. But to do nothing at all contributes to abuse and neglect. My position is that regular citizens, volunteers, trained to assure the rights and needs of these children, can do so much to improve their quality of life and provide them with opportunities.

The political and socioeconomic climate of our country today did not happen suddenly, it happened because of so many years of hatred, neglect, and ignorance. Children all over our country deserved advocacy, got none, and in so many cases had no options in their lives. Not only does this mean many of these children miss out on basic privileges of growing up in America, but creates a culture of angry, neglected, adults.

Never forget: children that we ignore as children still, in most cases, become adults. Adults are a little harder to ignore.

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